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Soccer’s crazy cousin is here

A combination of football, sumo wrestling and zorbing, bubble soccer is catching the fancy of youngsters18 Nov 2017 | 2:23 AM

So what if India could not win a game at the FIFA U-17 World Cup. So what if England took the trophy. There’s still hope for the nation with its newfound love for football’s fun cousin, bubble football.

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Gaurav Kanthwal

So what if India could not win a game at the FIFA U-17 World Cup. So what if England took the trophy. There’s still hope for the nation with its newfound love for football’s fun cousin, bubble football. With Bubble Football World Cup merely six months away, Indian probables are already out to set the record straight. Come May 19, 2018, and as many as 12 teams will slug it out for the Bubble Football World Cup trophy in London with India putting up a squad of techies. Hope this time the Indian team will not be found wanting, though, winning at least six games in the tournament appears to be quite a task. 

Bubble soccer is one of the top trending sport at present. Seventeen football playing countries — Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Lebanon, Norway, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Scotland, Sweden, Spain and Poland — are already hooked to it. The USA has the biggest following for the sport with the National Association of Bubble soccer enlisting 39 leagues with more than 100 teams.

India recently joined the bandwagon with Bengaluru hosting a trial match in October. The fun sport got a very good response in Mumbai during an exhibition match two years back.

“As much as it is fun watching guys chase a football, it is hilarious to see them bounce around upside down with their legs in the air. It’s a harmless sport with no room for injury or accidents,” said Kamlesh Sharma, a Goregaon-based bubble soccer promoter. 

The freaky game resembles a truncated football game with the players required to play with zorbs above their torso level. Inside the bubble, the players’ hands are fixed and the balance is maintained with legs only. The bubble, weighing nearly 10 kg, is open-ended from top and bottom. The bubble-shaped structure may limit the mobility of players but it amplifies their tackle-absorbing abilities manifold. There are minor modifications made to the game but the thrill remains the same. Maybe it goes a few notches up. For, there is more bouncing, more physicality and more adrenaline rush involved in it. 

In the coming months, bubble soccer is expected to gain a foothold in many cities of India. To begin with, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Chandigarh, Chennai, Goa, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Kochi, Kolkata, Lucknow, Nasik, Nagpur, Pune and Surat will be hosting trial games to see the response in India. Bubble soccer is specially designed for amateur players, who do not want to miss out the fun due to the lack of intensity and have an injury-free experience. Some of the gyms in India have already incorporated it in their daily training as it involves an aerobic workout for the players.

“There will be corporate team-building events, school and college activations and more to familiarise them with the sport. This will also prepare a team to represent India in the Bubble Soccer World Cup,” Sharma added.

Game on

  • The five-a-side game lasts for 30 minutes. 
  • The game is divided into two halves with a five-minute break in between. 
  • Five minutes are earmarked to putting on the zorb before the start of the game. 
  • The game can be played indoors or outdoors with a minimum playing field of 20m x 15m. 
  • The team that scores more goals is declared the winner.
Soccer’s crazy cousin is hereAFP photos
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